Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/53

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33
SAXON CREED

shillings the tearing off a thumb nail or the pulling of hair till the bone became visible!

This sum, however, was not payable to the injured man, but to his family. And it is this sense of the value of the family bond that was such a marked characteristic of our forefathers, and has laid the foundation of so much in our social life to-day.

                "So long as The Blood endures,
I shall know that your good is mine; ye shall feel that my strength is yours."

Each kinsman was kinsman in very deed and truth, bound to guard and protect his brother from wrong, to suffer for him and revenge him. There was no forgiveness in the old Saxon creed.

War was their very existence, plunder and slaughter the "very breath of their lives." Splendid sailors, the "blast of the wind and the roar of the storm was as music in their ears," and still we seem to hear their shouts of glee as they breasted the salt waves to greet the undefended shores of deserted Britain. True, a stubborn defence by unorganised bands of the Celtic inhabitants of the island took place, but they

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